Emotional Vettel revels in first victory for Ferrari

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Sebastian Vettel has been left speechless after claiming an emotional win for Ferrari in just his second race for the team.

The German driver produced a perfect display in Malaysia on Sunday to clinch his first race win since the 2013 Brazilian Grand Prix, as Mercedes struggled with tire management in the extreme heat of Sepang.

Vettel joined Ferrari at the beginning of the year after spending six seasons with Red Bull in a move that saw him follow in the footsteps of his hero, Michael Schumacher.

In Malaysia on Sunday, the four-time world champion dominated proceedings at Sepang to cross the line 8.5 seconds ahead of Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg.

On the podium after the race, Vettel made no secret of his delight, struggling for words at times.

“It’s been a while – I haven’t been on the top step,” Vettel said. “My first time obviously with Scuderia Ferrari. I’m speechless…

“Obviously a big change over the winter, and the welcome that the team gave me has just been fantastic. I’ve only done two races, but it’s really a great atmosphere.

“[I’m] proud of today. We beat [Mercedes] fair and square. A great achievement, we have a great car. It is a bit emotional.”

Vettel mentioned Schumacher on the podium, saying that he is living a dream by racing for Ferrari and winning for the Scuderia.

“I am speechless,” Vettel said. “Last year was not a good year for me. I was struggling. This year’s car seems to suit me very well, and the team has been phenomenal.

“I remember when the gate opened at Maranello, it was like a dream coming true. I remember the last time I was there I was a kid watching Michael over the fence. Now I’m driving that very red car… it’s incredible.

“Today the race was spot on, great strategy, great race. Thanks to the team. A really really great day.”

With his fourth race win at Sepang, Vettel also became the most successful driver in the history of the Malaysian Grand Prix on Sunday, and will be hoping to use this result as a springboard for a possible championship challenge in 2015.

Starting lineup grid for IMSA Petit Le Mans: Tom Blomqvist puts MSR on pole position

Petit Le Mans lineup
IMSA
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IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar championship contender Tom Blomqvist put the Meyer Shank Racing Acura at the front of the starting lineup for the Motul Petit Le Mans at Michelin Road Atlanta.

Blomqvist turned a 1-minute, 8.55-second lap on the 2.54-mile circuit Friday to capture his third pole position for MSR this season. Earl Bamber qualified second in the No. 02 Cadillac for Chip Ganassi Racing.

Ricky Taylor was third in the No. 10 Acura of Wayne Taylor Racing, which enters Saturday’s season finale with a 19-point lead over the No. 60 of Blomqvist and Oliver Jarvis (who will be joined by Helio Castroneves) for the 10-hour race.

PETIT LE MANS STARTING GRID: Click here for the starting lineup l Lineup by car number

PETIT LE MANS: Info on how to watch

With the pole, MSR sliced the deficit to 14 points behind WTR, which will field the trio of Taylor, Filipe Albuquerque and Brendon Hartley in Saturday’s race.

“We really needed to put the car in this kind of position,” Blomqvist said. “It makes our life a little less stressful tomorrow. It would have given the No. 10 a bit more breathing space. It’s going to be a proper dogfight tomorrow. The guys gave me such a great car. It’s been fantastic this week so far, and it really came alive. I’m hugely thankful to the boys and girls at MSR for giving me the wagon today to execute my job.

“That was a big effort from me. I knew how important it was. It’s just awesome for the guys to give them some sort of reward as well. It’s always nice to be quick. If you do the pole, you know you’ve got a quick car.”

Though WTR has a series-leading four victories with the No. 10, MSR won the Rolex 24 at Daytona and has five runner-up finishes along with its three poles.

The strong performances of the ARX-05s ensure that an Acura will win the final championship in IMSA’s premier Daytona Prototype international (DPi) division, which is being rebranded as Grand Touring Prototype in the move to LMDh cars next season.

Taylor qualified third despite sliding into the Turn 5 gravel during the closing minutes of qualifying while pushing to gain points.

“Qualifying was important for points,” Taylor said. “Going into it, if we outqualified the No. 60 Meyer Shank Acura, they had a lot to lose in terms of championship points. So, we were trying to increase the gap over 20 points which would’ve made a big difference for tomorrow. We would have loved to get the pole and qualify ahead of the No. 60, but in the scheme of the points, it didn’t change a whole lot. I’m feeling good since it’s such a long race, and the No. 10 Konica Minolta Acura team does such a good job strategizing and putting us in a good position.

“I’m very confident in our lineup and our team compared to them over the course of 10 hours. I’d put my two teammates up against those guys any day. I think we are all feeling optimistic and strong for tomorrow.”

In other divisions, PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports (LMP2), Riley Motorsports (LMP3), VasserSullivan (GTD Pro) and Paul Miller Racing (GTD) captured pole positions.

The broadcast of the 10-hour race will begin Saturday at 12:10-3 p.m. ET on NBC, moving at 7 p.m. to USA Network. Peacock will have flag-to-flag coverage.


QUALIFYING

Results

Results by class

Fastest lap by driver

Fastest lap by driver after qualifying

Fastest lap by driver and class after qualifying

Fastest lap sequence in qualifying

Best sector times in qualifying

Time cards in qualifying

PRACTICE RESULTS: Session I l Session II l Session III